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Worried about my hedge stack, please advise

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by KSgrown, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    So I was doing the usual, calling uncles to see if the had any wood lying around I could cut for stacking and one of them had an interesting offer, which I took him up on. He had some old hedge fenceposts that were piled up out in a pasture that he wanted to get rid of. I don't know how old they are, when they were cut, how long they were actually used as fence posts or how long they had been stacked up in the pasture, but I took them anyway. I cut them up in 16-18" lengths and stacked them on my rack at home.

    I've burned plenty of hedge before but it was pretty wet, which was nice due to control the heat output. I'm worried because 1) hedge burns hot as s... and 2) this stuff is hard as a brick, heavy as heck, practically petrified, so I'm thinking it could get out of hand quick, if I'm not careful. I have a small Century CW2500 insert. I tried to get some semi wet wood also, that I could put in with a piece of hedge, to try and tame it down. I'm not sure what else to do to try and cut back on the heat output, if it burns too hot. Sparks are my #3 worry...

    Any thoughts? Thanks!

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  2. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    At first I'd use only a little of the hedge, and I'd mix it with other dry woods, not with wet wood. Dry hedge is primo firewood and I'd hate to water it down with wet wood. One or two hedge splits in with your usual wood won't get too hot. I don't have any hedge but a lot of guys burn full loads of hege without problems.
    ScotO likes this.
  3. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    I've burned hedge before and I can tell you that if I put in a full load of dry hedge, I will quickly over fire my stove. I burned a lot of hedge last winter and the winter before, but that wasn't fully dried hedge and it was the best burning wood that I've had so far. I've been told to not burn hedge that's completely dried out because it gets uncontrollably hot, only burn wet hedge. But, this was coming from a fire place guy, no EPA stove experience. I will start out very slowly and hopefully this turns out to be no big deal...

    What do I do if I get myself into an over-fire situation? Throw in the soaked toilet paper roll? I've heard that's how you put out flue fires but that seems too extreme for an over-fire. I definitely don't want to break my stove!
  4. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    And yes, I understand that burning wet wood doesn't work in EPA stoves, I've went through that struggle too. But hedge is just a different animal... It's almost too good! The terrible sparks on the other hand, I could live without.
  5. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    I routinely burn full (BKK full) loads of "petrified hedge" without issue. Just sayin.

    If the stove is overfiring it might be the stove or the operator's fault. You could have an airleak that's not a problem with other wood...or you may not be damping back far enough.

    A full load of hedge lasts me about 24 hours....compared to about 14-16 with white oak. Just put less in there and load a little more frequently. Adding wet wood like like adding water to your gas if your car is driving too fast...it ain't good for it. Just back of the accelerator a little.
    smokinj, Nixon, milleo and 2 others like this.
  6. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Whoa now. Get that notion of adding wet wood out of your head. It ain't good for nothing. If your stove is not controllable enough to burn good dry firewood (and I don't care what species) then we need to start talking about THAT as the issue. Maybe you are a candidate for a key damper??

    Edit: I burn a fair amount of hedge, myself. Never had an overfire problem.
  7. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    Thanks for the reply, the fact that you can do it gives me the comfort that I was looking for. I feel like I can control the air supply fairly well and I do have a temp gauge to monitor things. But, I don't feel like the air inlet on the century closes down that well, could just be me. Like I said, I'll start slow and figure it out as my confidence grows. And like you said, I'll put less in and load more as needed.

    This will be my 3rd year burning. My first year didn't go so well because I didn't have very good wood, didn't plan ahead well enough and learned a lot about EPA stoves. Last year went great, we had good wood and I was better at controlling the fire. I'm really looking forward to this year! Because we burn for suplemental heat, I start a new fire every day after work, so I don't burn for those long periods of time.

    Thanks again for the replys.
  8. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    I have ~23ft of insulated flexible liner in an exterior chimney and I feel like it drafts very well. I'm not ready for a key damper just yet, I'd rather continue honing my skills before I go modifying my setup.

    All I know is that hedge burns real hot and I've never burned any wood quite like the stuff I got now, brick hard very old hedge. I just wanted to ask so I don't do something stupid and start burning something that isn't safe. The only idea I had was to add some moisture to tame the too hot fire, if it came to that. I was just trying to think ahead since I can't afford an over-fire with my family in the room.

    Thanks for correcting me.
  9. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    EPA stoves DON'T close down all the way. It is by design to always have xx amount of air available to the fire. It is probably not a good practice, but some have modified the air intake to allow full closure (not recommended). BUT - on the other side of the combustion - the output (your chimney/stack) in some instances, like exceptionally tall chimneys - some install a pipe key damper. By closing down the amount of air that can escape up, you will limit the amount of air that can be sucked in.

    Edit: you posted before me, so feel free to ignore the part on the key damper. Good on ya for wanting to hone your practices, first.
    ScotO likes this.
  10. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    I understand how EPA stoves work, in a basic sense, and my secondaries work well. I also understand the concept of a key damper, at this time I'm not ready for that. Thank you for the explaination and suggestions, I'm always trying to improve my burning skills!
  11. nola mike

    nola mike Feeling the Heat

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    I have the same stove. Though I haven't burned hedge, i've burned full loads of 2x4's, small split pine, eco-bricks packed in there, etc. Never come close to an overfire. I'd start with just a smaller load than usual and keep an eye on it.
  12. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    I put my temp gauge (http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200405865_200405865) on the top left corner, on the front of the stove. This particular stove, you can't measure the stove top temp, so I figured this is the next best location. I start to get worried when it gets over the 700 mark and the secondary tubes start to glow orange. Is that getting close to over-fire? That's when I start to get worried anyway... Also about that time, we notice a drastic increase in heat output.
  13. nola mike

    nola mike Feeling the Heat

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    I clip a candy thermometer in the air gap above the stove, I find that it's a more consistent measure of stove temps than what's on the front (which varies widely, depending on how the stove is loaded). My secondaries also glow when the thing is cranking, FWIW.
  14. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Fence posts? Were they treated? I'd want to know before burning any in the stove.
  15. Nixon

    Nixon Minister of Fire

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    I very much doubt that they were treated . Hedge last for donkeys years all by itself . Probably would out last BL .
  16. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    They will.Even stronger too. My paternal grandfather in NW Missouri set some hedge posts back in the '30s & '40s,he died in '72 & the 160 acre farm changed owners twice since then.I get down that way a couple times yearly & last I checked most all looked pretty good.Dad told me 'he preferred line posts 6in diameter on small end & 7 ft long,corner posts 9 in diameter & 9 ft long'

    Glad I didnt have to dig the holes or move the posts later on......!!! Most would've gotten cut off flush with the ground. ;)
    ScotO likes this.
  17. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    There is no sign of treatment or damage from... anything. These are old old, like I said, practically petrified. But look very burnable!
  18. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    I dug out and old driveway with a skidsteer last weekend. There was a 4" diameter hedge stump that had been buried for 30 years. 85HP skidsteer could barely scratch it up...let alone get it out. Amazing stuff that hedge.
    chvymn99, Thistle and ScotO like this.
  19. osagebow

    osagebow Minister of Fire

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    What's the deal with the wet toilet paper? Is that an effective way to take an EPA stove thats overfiring? Have a key damper, bit intrigued by that.

    Enjoy that hedge, KSgrown!
  20. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like you've got it under control KS.

    But it also sounds to me like who-ever told you not to burn dry Hedge didn't know what they were talking about.

    I've never had the pleasure of burning it, so maybe I should just keep quiet, but based on every other wood I've burned and everything I've learned here or elsewhere: the more dense the wood, the longer and slower the burn. Hedge, is as about as dense as wood gets in N.America, should burn long & slow. That's what makes it such great firewood.

    Someone who burns dry Hedge regularly come back me up on that?
  21. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    The thing about hedge is that it burns very, very hot and it sparks a lot.

    Back when I was first learning about burning in a stove and trying to stay safe about it, I read that if you get a flue or chimney fire, then you should dunk a roll of toilet paper in the toilet or something, to get it soaking wet, then toss it in the fire and shut down the door. The soaking roll of paper turns to steam and will extinguish the creosote fire. Is it true? I have no idea, but it sounded good so I stored that away in my burning memory bank, just in case I get into a scary situation like that, hopefully save the house from burning down.
  22. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    For those that are not familiar - hedge is about the closest thing to hard coal that there is in the living world. Very dense with a high energy content per stick. Best used on an established fire because it can be slow going to get it to light off from a cold start. It does produce copious amounts of heat, but it is still controllable. It has everything to do with combustion air and the control of the stove.
  23. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I've heard that but if I had a chimney fire, opening that firebox door would be the last thing I'd want to do.
  24. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    OK, I have read this thread. Lots of good advise. Lots of accurate info. I burned nothing but hedge for many years. It burns hot, it sparks a lot, but it is great wood and produces tons of heat. I always controlled things by how much I loaded in the stove. Less wood, less chance of over fire. Every stove is different. You have to figure out what you need to do in YOUR stove. Hedge is so dense and burns so hot it often takes less to produce the same amount of heat and last as long as other species. So start out with small loads and work your way up in YOUR stove until you find the right combination. Just an old wood burners opinion. As for a chimney fire.....keep your flue clean by whatever method and don't have one! That's my advise. ;)
  25. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Great info on this thread. And as Jags and others have already told you, the last thing you want to do is put wet wood in that stove.......that's completely nullifying the benefits of burning hedge in the first place, and its also putting creosote into your flue.. I would REALLY be considering doing as Jags said and look at installing a key damper. They, when used properly, can add whole new element of control especially if you have a really strong draft.
    chvymn99 and Backwoods Savage like this.

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